Jerusalem City Hall Joins Residents in Fight for Pool

Members say that the pool's owners want to force them out so that they can turn the pool into an upscale real estate project.

The Jerusalem Municipality has turned to the court in a bid to keep the Jerusalem pool in operation, joining residents who have been working to prevent the city's only year-round Olympic-sized pool from being demolished.

About a year ago, the pool's members found out that developers were planning to turn the pool into an upscale real estate project. The pool, in the German Colony, has become a magnet for secular residents over the decades.

pool - News - Feb 3 2010

Last year the pool closed down over the winter for what the owners called essential repairs. The pool is scheduled to close down again at the beginning of October for several months.

Members say that the pool's owners, Kibbutz Shoresh and the Elah family, want to force as many members as possible to resign so that they can later claim the pool had to be closed for lack of membership.

A group of members and the Ginot Ha'ir neighborhood administration formed a committee to organize protests and pressure the city into preventing the pool from closing.

When the city gave the land to the pool's developers in 1980, they agreed to operate the pool "for the use of the general public at popular and reasonable prices."

The municipality told the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court that the agreement requires the owners to keep the pool open year-round.

City Councilman Yosef Aflalo said yesterday: "It's high time we learned how to appreciate a public asset and not sell it to rich developers. The developers have the right to make a profit, but not at the expense of the public," he said.

One of the pool's owners, Rami Barel, said yesterday that the owners would make their full response in court, but that the agreement, which they say is no longer valid, does not require them to operate the pool year-round.

Barel also said the members are not being inconvenienced and the level of services at the pool is the same as it has always been.